Whether your pup barks like crazy during a thunderstorm or licks himself excessively when you’re packing to go on a trip, any owner knows when their dog is displaying signs of stress, anxiety, or fear. If you need a refresher,
Just like how each dog has his own way of exhibiting stress, each dog can react differently to calming methods. Try some of these strategies out the next time your pet needs some comfort.
Play some music
You probably have a go-to song you listen to when you’re overwhelmed—but did you know that music can calm down dogs, too?
Studies have shown that playing music—specifically soft rock and reggae—can reduce dogs’ heart rates, cortisol levels, and other symptoms of stress. There is even special calming music meant for dogs, too. It can help ease separation anxiety when you’re away from home and reduce stress during storms or fireworks.
Try putting on some tunes or switch on the radio the next time your pup gets anxious.
Yes, there’s aromatherapy for dogs! Essential oils can help soothe your pet; you just have to be careful. Don’t use any essential oils you have around the house. Instead, purchase a vet-approved, specially formulated oil meant for pets. These will include the right balance of oils and be diluted properly.
When applying, be sure to rub the oil along your dog’s back and avoid applying on places he could lick it off.
Don’t forget to do your research on what essential oils dogs enjoy and what you need to stay away from. Chamomile, lavender, cedar, and bergamot have calming and grounding properties, so look for formulas that include these oils.
Steer clear of tea tree, citrus, anise, clove, wormwood, and other essential oils that are harmful to dogs.
Get some exercise
When your dog is hyperactive or jittery, go for a run or play some fetch. This will help alleviate extra energy and work out any nerves from being cooped up for too long or getting stressed out.
A frisbee and some fresh air can work wonders. If your dog remains hyperactive, take breaks during a game of fetch. Every time he returns the ball to you, have your dog sit and make eye contact with you before you throw it again. This can help calm him down.
Try to avoid other dogs or dog parks until your pup is calm. Otherwise, too much social stimulation may stress him out even more.
Soothe your pet
If music, aromatherapy, and exercise don’t help, try these soothing strategies:
- Put your dog in a dark room with no external stimulation. This isn’t a timeout, but a way to relax and reset.
- Never underestimate the power of physical touch. Slow, steady pets and belly rubs can make a big difference.
- Check your own stress levels. Dogs can sense your anxiety and feed off it. Take deep breaths and ensure that you’re speaking in a calm voice.
Reinforce positive behavior and discourage negative behavior. When your dog is jumping, barking, and getting too hyper, don’t immediately reach to pet him or soothe him. This can teach your pet that these behaviors work to get your attention fast.
Instead, don’t make eye contact or touch your dog when they’re acting this way. When ignored, your dog can stop this behavior and calm down.
When your dog deals with stress positively, don’t forget to reward him with a treat!